Dozens reported killed in Laos plane crash

Posted at 11:50 AM, Oct 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-16 14:17:11-04

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) — A Lao Airlines passenger plane crashed Wednesday as it prepared to land during heavy rain and strong winds in southern Laos, killing dozens aboard, an airline official said.

Forty-nine people, including 44 passengers, were killed in the crash, which occurred at about 4 p.m. as the plane was preparing to land at Pakse Airport near the border with Thailand, said Chalerm Taiyalad, a Lao Airlines vice president.

Referring to an initial report, Taiyalad said gusts from the remnants of Typhoon Nari caused the pilots to lose control of the ATR 72 aircraft.

The victims include 17 Laotian passengers and five cabin crew members, seven French, five Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, one American, one Canadian, one Chinese, one Malaysian, one Vietnamese, and one Taiwanese, Taiyalad said. No explanation was offered for the discrepancy between that total — 48 — and the 49 cited.

But Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that six Australians were aboard the flight.

“Lao authorities have told our embassy in Vientiane (the Laotian capital) they do not expect any survivors,” it said.

The ATR propeller plane was preparing to land when a gust of wind appeared to push it away from the airport, and it crashed on or near an island in the Mekong River, reported KPL, the national news agency.

Remnants of Typhoon Nari have dumped more than 3.9 inches on Pakse since Tuesday.

The plane was headed from Vientiane to Pakse, an official with the Thai Foreign Ministry said.

CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.